A few months ago when I first received the D&D 5th edition Player’s Handbook, I put together a Samurai & a Ninja character build. I had pulled together information from the AD&D book Oriental Adventures, Wikipeida, and some information that I found from other people in community forums. With the release of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I was excited to see that there is a section on running a Wuxia campaign (DMG page 41). I went and pulled together my older post and notes, and I’d like to revisit and clean up what I did before with the two character builds. I also put together a revised criminal background for someone that belongs to a Ninja Clan.
So what follows is a character build that I did for a Samurai using the Fighter class instead of a Paladin. The Paladin build is mentioned in the Wuxia Campaign section of the D&D 5e DMG for creating a Samurai. And also a Ninja build using a Rogue instead of the Monk class. There is also the Ninja Clan background that I had seen on EN World community pages with a clean-up on some things.
Samurai Fighter Build
Race. Human Variant
Human Variant Ability Modifiers. +1 Str +1 Con
Ability Scores Start. Str 15, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 10,Wis 10, Cha 12
Ability Scores Final. Str 16 (+3), Dex 13 (+1), Con 14 (+2), Int 10,Wis 10, Cha 12 (+1)
Human variant Extra Skill. Pick perception
Human variant Extra feat. Martial Adept
Get 2 starting additional maneuvers for Battle Master & and starting superiority 1d6 dice
1. Evasive Footwork – when you move, you can expend on superiority die, rolling the die and adding the number rolled to your AC until you stop moving
2. Rally – bonus action – friendly creature gains temp hitpoints die roll + cha modifier
Fighter Skill. Athletics, Intimidation
Fighter Class Feature. Second Wind
Fighter Specialty. Great Weapon Fighting
Background. Noble – Knight w/ 1 squire & 2 retainers, You fly the emblem of your Shogun, History & Persuasion Skills, Tool proficiency in dice set (Chō-han)
Equipment & Weapons.
Longsword +5 to hit, 1d8+3 damage (15gp) (Katana)
Shortsword +5 to hit, 1d6+3 damage (10gp) (Wakizashi)
Longbow +3 to hit, 1d8+1 damage (50gp) (Yumi)
Arrows (#20) (1gp) w/ quiver (1gp)
Halberd +5 to hit, 1d10+3 damage (20gp) (Naginata)
Start with chain shirt AC 14 (50gp) and eventually upgrade to breastplate (Lamellar Yoroi) AC 15
Fine clothes(15), signet ring(5), scroll of pedigree, coin purse, explorer’s backpack(10gp), dice set
Fighter Class Feature. Action surge
Fighter Martial Archetype. Choose Battle Master
add 3 more maneuvers of your choice from previous Martial Adept feat gained at level 1.
add 4 1d8 superiority dice. Total of 5 (1d8)
Student of War. Artisan tools proficiency: Calligrapher’s supplies
Race. Human Variant
Human Variant Ability Modifiers. +1 Dex +1 Wis
Ability Scores Start. Str 12, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 14,
Ability Scores Final. Str 12 (+1), Dex 16 (+3), Con 10, Int 10, Wis 12 (+1), Cha 14 (+2)
Human variant Extra Skill. Performance
Human variant Extra feat. Skulker
Rogue Skills (4). Athletics, Stealth (Expert), Acrobatics, and Deception (Expert)
Rogue Armor/Weapon Proficiencies. Light armor, Simple weapons, Hand crossbows, Long swords, Rapiers, Shorts words
Rogue Tool Proficiencies. Thieves Tools
Rogue Languages. Thieves’ Cant
Rogue Sneak attack. 1d6
Background. Variant Ninja Clan (see below)
Equipment & Weapons.
Short sword +5 to hit, 1d6+3 damage (10 GP) (Ninjatō)
Short sword +5 to hit, 1d6 damage off hand (10 GP)
Dagger +5 to hit 1d4+3 dmg, (2 GP) (Tanto)
Shortbow +5 to hit, 1d6+3 dmg (25 GP)
Arrows (#20) w/ quiver (2 GP)
10 darts +5 to hit, 1d4+3 dmg (2.5 GP) (Bo-Shuriken)
Sickle +3 to hit, 1d4+1 dmg (1GP) (Kama)
flail +3 to hit, 1d8+1 dmg (10gp) (Nunchakus)
Studded leather armor (45 GP) (Kusari Katabria) (gives same AC as chain shirt for this DEX)
Clothes dark common w/ hood (.5 GP)
Burglar’s pack (16 GP) (Ashiko)
Thieves tools (25 GP)
Caltrops bag of 20 (1 GP) (Tetsu-Bishi)
Grappling hook (2 GP) (Kaginawa)
8 GP remaining
Rogue Class Feature. Add Cunning Action
Rogue Archetype. Choose Assassin
Add tools proficiency. disguise kit, poisoner kit
Add Assassinate feature
Sneak attack damage: 2d6
If you use this background with the build above you would not receive the equipment, because it has already been accounted in the build.
Ninja Clan Background
You grew up in a ninja clan, and were taught the secret ways of the shinobi. A ninja understands the art of stealth and infiltration, whether as a sneaky rogue, a clever master of disguise, or a student of illusion and misdirection. Ninja clans tend to exist in remote locations, training hard in a family, clan environment, and are often hired by warlords and generals to accomplish clandestine military objectives. While feared and renowned as assassins, in reality ninjas encompass a much broader range of types.
Skill Proficiencies. Survival, Slight of Hand
Tool Proficiencies. forgery kit, and herbalism kit (Kusuribin)
Equipment. A set of traveling clothes, 12 darts (Bo-shuriken), and a choice of a set of thieves’ tools, an alchemist’s kit, or a disguise kit, belt pouch with 15 gold
Ninja Clan. Your ninja specialty can be stealth, disguise, or illusion. Ninja clans usually focus on one specialty, gaining a reputation for it, and your association with your clan passes that reputation on to you. work with your DM to determine the nature of your ninja clan; you can select your specialty or the table below or roll randomly.
1-2: Shadow Assassins – specializing in sneaking and quietly killing (Sneak). Your clan focuses on the skills of hiding, climbing, and sneaking.
3-4: Clan of the Many Faces – specializes in disguise and intrigue (Disguise). Your clan prefers to infiltrate through the front door, often with long-term planned placements.
5-6: Sakkaku Clan – a group of sorcerers and illusionist (Illusion). Your clan mastered the arts of alchemy, using smoke, noise, and fire to best effect.
Feature – Ninja Clan
Having been brought up in your ninja clan, you gain certain unique benefits that only the loyalty of family can provide. Your clan will hide you and your companions, and provide you with food and basic lodging, and can provide healing services.
Due to their isolation, ninja clans often breed individuals with values and traits which do not always fit in well with others; however, the concentration on clan and family means that a ninja’s companions can rely on her as a fiercely loyal ally.
1. I grew up in a remote, rural location, and place little value on wealth or nobility.
2. I feel far more comfortable in the outdoors, away from city life.
3. My clan was attacked when I was young, giving me a fierce distrust of outsiders.
4. I believe strongly in loyalty, and can be trusted and relied on whatever the circumstances.
5. Deception is part of life. Believe nothing I say.
6. I will never sit with my back to a door or window, accustomed as I am to the arts of assassination.
1. Clan. My ninja clan is my family and my life. Everything I do is for them. (Lawful)
2. Friendship. I always knew that things change; but true friends remain always. (Good)
3. Tradition. The ways of my clan permeate everything I do, even if they would impede my progress. (Lawful)
4. Chaos. I grew up an outsider, and I will always be an outsider. Civilized order is designed to oppress. (Chaos)
5. Aspiration. I hope one day to perform a great deed and return to my clan a hero. (Any)
6. Greed. I’m in it for the money. I’ll take any job if it involves money. (Evil)
1. I am trying to restore the lost honor of my clan.
2. I seek revenge on those who destroyed my clan and murdered my family.
3. My teacher was a wise old ninja master, and I owe him everything.
4. I will die before I reveal the location of my ninja clan.
5. My clan’s enmity with another clan is more important than anything else in the world.
6. I seek an ancient heirloom or artifact which once belonged to my ninja clan.
1. Discretion is the better part of valor. I will avoid a difficult fight.
2. Fighting fair is for fools. If I can poison an enemy or slit their throat as they sleep, I will do so.
3. My focus on tradition overrides common sense, often causing me difficulties.
4. I embody “dark and mysterious” to the point of obnoxiousness.
5. I nurture every grudge and insult, and cannot rest until I have had my revenge.
6. I have a shameful secret, and my clan will kill me before allowing me to return home.
I really like the flexibility that D&D 5th edition that has allowed in building characters in the system. I could sit down and start from scratch again, but might come up with some new ideas for these two builds and that would be okay. I am happy that all of this flexibility has all been reinforced with the release of the dungeon master’s guide. If you have any feedback please let me know.
Here are the current links to the Wuxia / Oriental Adventure Campaign World I am building:
part 1. Samurai & Ninjas
part 2. Food
part 3. Yakuza
part 4. Exotic Weapons
part 5. Wu Jen